Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011

Well, Kindergarten is still going very well for us.  We are in a pretty good routine with it these days, which is great because everyone knows what to expect.

The boys are both reading at somewhere between a 2nd and 3rd grade level, although Nick is still ahead of Ben.  Ben is still ahead of Nick with writing but Nick is really catching on quickly.  Handwriting Without Tears has definitely been a good fit for Nick and Ben is enjoying it also.  They are now working on lower case letters and they do 4 pages a day (2 pages, front and back), 4 days a week.  They have about 2 more weeks before they finish this version of HWT, after which we will start copy work.

We continue to alternate days for phonics and spelling and both are coming along nicely.  The boys enjoy writing their spelling words on the chalkboard.  One will call out the words while the other writes them and then they will trade places.

The boys seem to really enjoy worksheet type of work, which surprises me.  We have been doing some math worksheets so today I decided to mix it up a bit and play some Right Start math games.  At first, they seemed like they would rather have their worksheets back.  But once we started playing, they seemed to enjoy it until the last game, which was going swimmingly until one of them realized he was losing and the other was winning and then he was very unhappy.  After that, he was not so into that game anymore.  I really like the games though because they make learning about math fun, although if a child has issues with losing it can become not so fun very quickly so we will have to tread lightly there.  The good news is that it seems they are getting the math so we will continue to move forward with Singapore Math 1A, although we will move at a slower pace than normal.

Violin practice is going well again, at least for me and Ben.  Nick has not been participating lately:).  We are practicing a couple of very simple pieces that (I think) Ben will be playing in some type of orchestra recital around the holidays.  The boys are starting to sing Christmas songs in our homeschool co-op choir, which they are really enjoying.  Tomorrow we have Zumba and choir again so it will be a fun day.

Today the boys wanted to do a craft project so I pulled out one of my craft idea books and they picked out this santa craft.  The book rated it as very easy and doable with household items.  We did part of it but the glue had to dry before we could do the next step.  It took forever to do the small part that we did and the boys needed a lot of help to do it.  It has left me with a very negative feeling about crafts.  I am definitely going to have to work at getting better at this.  I think the first step would be to start planning some crafts for them in advance so I will already be prepared and know exactly what to expect....sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it?

I forgot to mention that Ben lost his first tooth.  He was eating cheerios when it came out and he swallowed it.  After the shock wore off, he realized that he didn't have a tooth to put under his pillow.  He looked at me, near tears and with lip trembling, and said he really wanted to put it under his pillow so he could get some money.  I quickly reassured him that he didn't need to have the tooth in order to get the money.  I teased him about the tooth fairy knowing about it and he let me know that he didn't believe in the tooth fairy but he was relieved about not needing to have the tooth to get his money.  He keeps reminding us and others (everyone we meet, anywhere) that the reason he lost his tooth before Nick is that he is 6 weeks older than Nick.

We're over the worst of the colds now but still have some residual junk left...but feeling better every day.  The weather here is beautiful now, finally.  Today it didn't get above around 63 or so and tomorrow is going to be cool also and then we will be back into the mid-80's.  The boys are spending tons of time outside playing.  Now that I am thinking about what we will be covering in 1st grade, I wonder how we will ever fit it all in.  It just seems like there is already not enough time in the day to do everything we want to do.  We may have to get an earlier start on our day.

Today at swim lessons they did testing and the boys both passed and will be moving to the next level so they have their basics down very well.  They can easily swim under water back and forth across the pool, bobbing their head above water when they need to take a breath.  They can swim under water, turn over on their back to take some breaths, turn over again and swim, etc. all the way across the pool. They can float on their back and they can dive to the bottom in the deep end of the pool to retrieve a ring.  They have been practicing various other strokes, like a side stroke and others.  So, I'm feeling pretty good about their safety in the pool.

Well, it's getting late so time for bed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011

We're still here!  Sorry it has been so long since I have posted.  I will try to do better.  I have pictures to post but that will have to wait for another day.  The boys and I all have colds and I have not had a good night sleep for three nights in a row.  So, we have just been taking it easy yesterday and today.

School is going pretty well.  We are just chugging right along in all of our subjects.  The jury is still out on math, whether we will have to drop back to K math or we will keep going with 1st grade math.  I should have a better idea and be able to make a decision within another week or two.  Their writing is coming along very nicely and I only wish I could memorize things as quickly as they do.  Reading and spelling are going very well.   We are zipping through All About Spelling Level 1 fairly quickly and I am researching what we will use next.  I am considering switching to a more workbook approach with spelling and I think we will be trying Spelling Workout, which is recommended in The Well Trained Mind.

I have also been researching how we will do science, once we are ready to start first grade work.  After looking at the different available curricula packages, I think we are going to follow The Well Trained Mind's recommendations for this also.  So, for first grade, we will be studying living things, specifically animals, the human body and plants.  We will use the DK First Animal Encyclopedia to study animals, the Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia to study the human body and Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening to study plants.  Each of these books will be our 'spine' from which we will start studying the various topics.  We will also get books on each topic from the library and we will do hands on projects, where possible.  We will do the animal study for 20 weeks, one animal per week.  I will let the boys each pick 10 animals from the table of contents and then we will make a plan how to best study each one.  We will probably make some trips to the aquarium, the zoo and the farm during this study too.  I think it will be a lot of fun and we will all enjoy it and learn a lot.  For our botany study, we will do it last, in the spring.  We were already planning to start a garden then so it will fit in quite nicely.  This book looks really great, with lots of smaller, interesting projects the boys can do too.  I'm still thinking about the human body study but we should be able to come up with some interesting ideas and doctor dad can help too.
Now I need to spend some time looking at how we will study history.  I'm pretty sure we will use Story of the World and the accompanying activity guide.  I am thinking I may also incorporate some of the first unit of Tapestry of Grace Year 1, since I have it and would like to start getting to know it a bit while the kids are young, during the Grammar Stage, before we really start using it more heavily in the Logic Stage.

I also still have to think about how we want to study art.  Our co-op is offering an art class this year but I didn't want to do that during K.  We may do it next year or I may just teach it myself at home, which would be fun too and I know I would learn a lot.  That's one of the things I really enjoy about homeschooling...that I get to learn so much too!

Also in first grade, we will start First Language Lessons and Writing With Ease.  I already have these so we can start them when we are ready.   I will have to review The Well Trained Mind again to see what I am missing but this (all of the above) is the meat of the 1st grade year, plus the math and spelling, of course.

In other news, did I mention that I have my own, adult size violin now?  Surprise!  I am really enjoying it, although we have not been practicing the last day or two, while we have been sick.  Nick has decided to start joining us for practices again and says he wants to do lessons again.  He has to practice with us for this month before I am going to sign him up again though.  So far he has done very well but the jury is still out.

The boys are really doing wonderfully in their swimming lessons.  They are pretty solid swimmers now so we may either stop their lessons in December or May, I'm not sure yet.  But it will be good to have the extra time in our schedule when they start first grade.  That's one less thing for which we have to drive into the city.

Our homeschool co-op experience has been very positive so far.  The boys are really enjoying the P.E., Zumba and choir classes.  They also rearranged the classes a bit to make them a little smaller so the boys are now with the 6 to 8 year olds, which is interesting.  They will be six so soon that I hated to put them in with the 5 and under crowd and then have to move them so soon.  The choir teacher said it was good to have them in the 6 to 8 year old class because she needed more boys and also because the younger class has children as young as 3 in it so she thought they would get more out of the older class and I agree. 

Well, the natives are becoming restless so I must sign off for now.  I will try to start posting more often and hope to have some pics up soon.